Marissa Barnett

Intern for KUT News

KUT News

Austin police have a no-refusal period Memorial Day weekend targeting drunken driving and boating.

During no-refusal actions, officers can obtain blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to willingly provide a breath sample or cooperate with a blood test.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Update: So who is moving to Austin? Young, recent college graduates and retiring baby boomers make up the majority of new Austinites, according to City of Austin demographer Ryan Robinson.

“That attractiveness, that gravitational pull that we exert for the young and the talented, and the well-educated, that really is our sweet spot,” Robinson says.

But the young are not the only ones charmed by Austin. Retiring baby boomers are also flocking to the area.

Instagram user @happymercado

You may have noticed more bikes on Austin roads today. That’s because it’s the annual Bike to Work Day across the country.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

35 Central Texas World War II veterans, including Texas’ oldest living veteran, are flying to Washington D.C. today as part of the Honor Flight program.

The flight leaves Austin Bergstrom International Airport at 12:30 p.m. after a ceremonial send off from Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Honor Flight Austin Chairman Allen Bergeron, a flight nurse and one guardian per veteran will also be on the flight. The trip is just one day, but the itinerary is packed with memorial visits and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: Austin police say the suspect is in custody and that roadways will open soon. Eastbound U.S. Hwy 290 is open now, but the service road near Berkman is still closed.

The situation started early this morning when police responded to a call of a shot fired at the Capitol Village Apartments. When officers arrived, police say the suspect pointed a weapon at them and police fired back – but no one was injured. The suspect then went back inside of an apartment and police have been trying to make contact. They’re also trying to evacuate the apartment complex.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Texas House passed a bill Thursday that would increase the amount of charter schools across the state.

Right now, Texas caps the number of charters—or publicly funded, privately operated schools—to 215.  Senate bill 2 would increase the number of charter licenses allowed to 305 by 2019.

College is a time for classes, house parties and questionable dorm food. But as some students at UT and across the country are demonstrating, it’s also a time for activism.

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben and his environmentally-minded group are promoting a “Fossil Free Divestment Movement” to encourage American universities to withdraw their stock holdings from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies. The group first gained notoriety when it held an International Day of Climate Action in 2009.

University of Texas

The first University of Texas medical student class could be here as early as fall 2016. The UT Board of Regents unanimously approved plans for the school at a meeting earlier today.

Though construction has not begun, UT President Bill Powers says he’s hopeful that the school will be ready by 2016 and the teaching hospital by 2017. Until then, UT has a laundry list of things to do. 

Google Maps

Auditorium Shores is a step closer to closing for a year.

Today, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board voted to recommend that City Council approve a plan to upgrade the park with a $3.5 million donation from an Austin-based event planning company C3 Presents. You can watch that meeting online

KUT News

Popular park and festival spot Auditorium Shores could close for a whole year if the Austin City Council approves a proposal from the Parks and Recreation Department.

The changes include an improved irrigation system, new turf grass and an enhanced off-leash area for dogs. The cost would be shouldered via a $3.5 million donation from the Austin-based promoters C3 Presents. The company has worked out similar deals to improve the grounds at Zilker Park, which hosts C3’s Austin City Limits Festival.

On the table today at the Capitol’s “Food Policy Day” is school breakfast. That’s federally funded cereal, milk, yogurt and fruit.

Now, about 1,800 schools in Texas participate in the federal School Breakfast Program. Food policy advocates and some legislators are hoping that a bill up for vote at the Capitol would add another 1,000 schools to the list.

The chaos created by the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, has left many of the town’s pets displaced and injured.

According to one Facebook post, a toy Chihuahua named Pedro escaped through a damaged, exposed area of his owner’s home after the blast. And Pedro’s story is common in West.

Texas A & M Veterinary Emergency Team is on the scene in West, checking animals for injuries before sending them to the humane society. Spokesperson Angela Clendenin says they have seen nearly 50 animals today, including one dog with a fractured leg and one with abdominal problems.

Marissa Barnett, KUT News

Central Texans have been turning out all day to donate blood to help the survivors in West.

The waiting room of Austin’s Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas is busier than usual today with people turning out to donate blood for victims of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, 30 miles outside of Waco.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Governor Rick Perry says that he would support using a portion of the sales tax from car sales on roads, highways and other transportation infrastructure.

“With the rapid growth of our population and our healthy economy, the amount we take in on those sales are increasing steadily,” Perry said during the Texas Lyceum Conference on Transportation in Austin.  “I propose that we dedicate the future growth in sales tax collected on motor vehicles to transportation infrastructure.”

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT

The Texas Senate approved SB 1611 today, also known as the Michael Morton Act.

The bill would give defense attorneys access to evidence held by prosecutors. Texas is one of a few states to not have a statewide open file policy, though district attorneys in some Texas counties have practiced a form of open file policy.

The days of procrastinating until midnight to mail your taxes are over. For the first time in years, Austin's U.S. Postal Service will not have extended hours on tax day. 

Due to increases in electronic filing, the agency's spokesperson in Austin said that it can no longer justify staying open until midnight on April 15.

KUT News

After nearly seven years of service, 164 arrests, a handful of trips to the vet for stitches and one bout with a skunk, Vuk has hung up his harness.

Vuk—a Belgian Malinois canine commissioned by the Austin Police Department in 2006—celebrated his retirement Sunday at the Happy Tails Pet Resort in Cedar Park.

Alfredo Estrella / AFP/Getty Images

The Texas Department of Public Safety calls Mexican cartels the most significant organized crime threat in the state. In its 2013 report, the agency said six cartels are operating in Texas by moving drugs, people, cash and weapons across the border.

"It is a top DPS priority to severely obstruct the range and power of Mexican drug organizations to affect the public safety of Texas citizens," said DPS Director Steven McCraw at the Texas Emergency Management Conference in San Antonio this week.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Thirty-five new charter school permits could be issued every year under the newest version of a bill that aims to improve accessibility to open enrollment charters. An earlier version of Senate Bill 2 would have allowed for unlimited growth of charter schools.

The amendments to Sen. Dan Patrick’s (R-Houston) bill were offered during this morning’s senate hearing on education. 

Marissa Barnett for KUT News

South Congress could be missing some visitors by the end of this weekend, and not just because the last of Austin’s South by Southwest visitors have fled to the airport: the land between East Milton and East Monroe streets on South Congress Avenue where nearly a dozen food trailers are parked each day could be vacated any day now.  

When KUT News visited the park on Friday, almost every trailer offered a different closing day: “this Sunday,” “by the end of March,” “sometime around April” or “nothing is certain yet.”